Use Frozen Shelled Edamame To Bulk Up Vegetarian Pho

Along with Indian chana masala, coconut Thai curry, and Chinese fried rice, Vietnamese pho is a go-to take-out option. However, considering it's traditionally served with beef broth, it's not quite as easy to find vegetarian. Whether you have a go-to place to get yours or have resorted to making your own aromatic vegetarian pho from scratch at home, there's a simple, plant-based way for you to bulk it up with some protein — and no, it's not crispy tofu. It's even simpler than that. By keeping a bag of frozen, shelled edamame in your freezer, you can give your vegetarian pho a hearty, protein boost in an instant.

If you're adding frozen edamame to the pho you ordered as takeout, the best and simplest way is to microwave or steam them first. Simply place your edamame in water, cover it with a lid, and place it in your steamer or microwave until they're steaming and hot — this should only take a few minutes. When they're done, drain them and add them directly to your pho to enjoy. On the other hand, if you're going the homemade pho route, you can thaw your frozen shelled edamame directly in your broth while you're cooking your noodles. By the time it's ready to eat, the edamame will be completely thawed, and your pho will be bursting with protein.

Aside from protein, however, the other thing your vegetarian pho needs to be bursting and boosted with is flavor. And, as it turns out, neither requires the help of animal proteins.

Tips for slurp-worthy vegetarian pho

Should the first slurp of your takeout vegetarian pho be met with disappointment, you can treat it like you would instant ramen and seriously upgrade it with the use of condiments — most of which you'll find in your pantry. Soy sauce is a great option, as is sriracha for some spice. You can also stir in sesame oil, miso paste, or fresh lime juice for more flavor, all of which, along with the addition of the edamame, will make your vegetarian pho even more satiating. However, your options and abilities to impart flavor to your pho open up vastly when you make it from scratch.

Like any pho, beefing up the flavor of your vegetarian pho — without the use of beef, of course — starts with your broth. Spices are inherent here, but you'll want to stick to the traditional. Cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, fennel, star anise, and cloves are the most common combination, but to get that signature smoky aroma, you'll want to char your aromatics first. So broil your onions and ginger along with any other vegetables — carrots and celery come recommended — and toast up your spices. Then, before adding the water and simmering it into a broth, reach for every source of umami you can find.

Most vegetarian pho recipes use miso paste, dried mushrooms, or kombu for an umami-rich broth. But any variation of the three will give you a complex, fragrant, and flavorful broth, without any of the beef.